Rachel was more grieved at the loss of her father than she could have believed possible during his lifetime. But a change had lately taken place in her nature; she, who was so exacting towards others, was now brought to examine herself, and could see how much there was in her own nature which required reform. She could now see plainly enough, that it was principally her own fault that she and her father had not understood each other better. It was only during his illness, that they had both come to know how many ideas they had in common, and what they might have been to each other. Now it was too late, and she looked back on her wasted life with regret; for Jacob Worse’s idea seemed to her quite impracticable.
The day before the funeral, Madeleine was sitting in the room which looked on to the garden. It was a raw, cold spring morning, with a drizzling rain from the south-west, and she had been obliged to close the window. Upstairs she could hear her father’s heavy footfall, which came nearer, passed overhead, and then became lost in the distance. Never had she felt so oppressed, sick at heart, and lonely as in that house, in which there reigned the silence which always seems to accompany death.
A knock was heard at the door, and Pastor Martens entered the room. Mrs. Garman had particularly invited him to pay them a visit every day.
“Good morning, Miss Madeleine. How do you feel to-day?”
“Thanks,” answered she, “I am pretty well; I mean about as well as I usually am.”
“That means, I am afraid, not particularly well,” said the clergyman, sympathetically. “If I were your doctor I should order you to go somewhere for a change this summer.”
He still kept his hat in his hand, and remained standing near the window which led into the garden. Madeleine was sitting on the end of the sofa at the other end of the room.
“This is a gloomy day for so late in the spring,” observed Mr. Martens, looking into the garden; “and a house like this, to which Death has brought his sad tidings, is a mournful place.”
She listened to him, keeping her eyes fixed on the ground, and without returning a word.
“A house like this,” he continued, “in which death is lying, is a picture of the lives of many of us. How many of us carry death at our hearts! Some hope or another that for us has long passed away, or some bitter disappointment that we have buried in the depths of our soul.”
He could see that she bent her head lower over the sofa, and he went on speaking earnestly and soothingly, and almost to himself.
“Since it is a good thing for us not to be alone; since it is good for us to have some one to cling to, when the bitter experiences of life cast their shadows over us, so—”
Madeleine suddenly burst into tears, and her sobs reached his ears.
“I beg your pardon,” said he, coming close to the sofa. “I was but following the bent of my own thoughts, and I fear I have made you unhappy, when my object ought rather to have been to endeavour to cheer you. Poor child!”